Category Archives: Plants & Technology

Your Laptop, Even Your Car, May Someday Run On Pollen

This study explored the potential of utilizing pollens as renewable carbon sources for energy storage application and found that high reversible capacities are achievable with careful selection of pollen morphology. (Click on title for full report.)

Rare Alpine Plants Found To Produce Even Rarer Mineral The World Wants

Naturally occurring vaterite is rarely found on Earth. Small amounts of vaterite crystals have been found in some sea and freshwater crustaceans, bird eggs, the inner ears of salmon, meteorites and rocks. This is the first time that the rare and unstable mineral has been found in such a large quantity and the first time it has been found to be associated with plants…. “Biochemists are working to synthetically manufacture vaterite as it has potential for use in drug delivery, but it is not easy to make. Vaterite has special properties that make it a potentially superior carrier for medications due to its high loading capacity, high uptake by cells and its solubility properties that enable it to deliver a sustained and targeted release of therapeutic medicines to patients. For instance, vaterite nanoparticles loaded with anti-cancer drugs appear to offload the drug slowly only at sites of cancers and therefore limit the negative side-effects of the drug.” (Click on title for full story.)

Forget Smoking It, Hemp Could Replace Concrete

The most sustainable building material is not concrete or steel — it is fast-growing hemp. Hemp structures date to Roman times. A hemp mortar bridge was constructed in the sixth century, when France was still Gaul. A wave of builders and botanists are working to renew this market. Mixing hemp’s woody fibers with lime produces a natural, light concrete that retains thermal mass and is highly insulating. No pests, no mold, good acoustics, low humidity, no pesticide. It grows from seed to harvest in about four months. (Click on title for full story.)

Concrete Infrastructure Could Heal Itself Thanks To Embedded Fungi

The fungal spores, together with nutrients, will be placed into the concrete matrix during the mixing process. When cracking occurs, water and oxygen will find their way in. With enough water and oxygen, the dormant fungal spores will germinate, grow and precipitate calcium carbonate to heal the cracks, When the cracks are completely filled and ultimately no more water or oxygen can enter inside, the fungi will again form spores. As the environmental conditions become favorable in later stages, the spores could be wakened again. (Click on title for full story)

Botany 2.0 – New Technologies Revive Interest In Traditional Botanical Pursuits

Plant biologists hope that, by combining new approaches to botany with data from genomics and imaging labs, they can provide better answers to questions that biologists have asked for more than 100 years: how genes and the environment shape the rich diversity of plants’ physical forms. “People are starting to look beyond their own system into plants as a whole,. Plant morphology was once a science of form for its own sake, she says, but now, it is being pressed into service to understand how plant traits connect to gene activity across disparate species. “It’s coming back — just under different guises.” (Click on title for full story.)

Wearable Sensors For Plants Enable Precise Monitoring

“The concept of wearable electronic sensors for plants is brand new. And the plant sensors are so tiny they can detect transpiration from plants, but they won’t affect plant growth or crop production.” But that’s not all the sensors can do. The technology could “open a new route” for a wide variety of applications, the authors wrote in their paper, including sensors for biomedical diagnostics, for checking the structural integrity of buildings, for monitoring the environment and, after appropriate modifications, for testing crops for diseases or pesticides.(Click on title for full story.)

Researchers Apply Microbes To Save Endangered Plant

Transplanting wild microbes from healthy related plants can make a native Hawaiian plant healthier and likelier to survive in wild according to new research. (Click on title for full story.)

First Hands-Free Grain Crop Planted and Grown To Harvest Entirely By Machine

Hands Free Hectare’s final yield was a couple of metric tons lower than the average from conventionally farmed land—and the costs in both time and money were, unsurprisingly for a pilot project, stratospherically higher. Nevertheless, the team’s experience suggests that drone agriculture offers some substantial benefits. (Click on title for full stoy.)

Maybe Your Next Computer Will Be Running On Autumn Leaves

Scientists in China and the US claim to have found a valuable use for the thousands of dead leaves that litter the roadsides of China each autumn. Instead of burning them, which is the traditional solution and one that exacerbates China’s air pollution problem, the researchers say they have developed a method to convert the leaves into a porous carbon material that can be used in electronics. (Click on title for full story.)

Your Next Car May Be Made Out Of Trees

Using plants and trees to make products such as paper or ethanol leaves behind a residue called lignin, a component of plant cell walls. That leftover lignin isn’t good for much and often gets burned or tossed into landfills. Now, researchers report transforming lignin into carbon fiber to produce a lower-cost material strong enough to build car or aircraft parts. (Click on title for full story.)